The Call of Abraham: His Four Altars - His Service - His Communion

Genesis 11‑18  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
ABRAHAM'S call to be a witness of the power of the word, "we walk by faith and not by sight," has a voice for the Christian, as to the character of his pathway in the world-He is termed the father of the faithful, and is a pattern to us of what the call of God is. It was at a moment when the world was in ruins-everything had failed-man in innocency -man without law-Noah-the nations-idolatry had overspread the face of the world. (Josh. 24:22And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. (Joshua 24:2).) All had gone into failure. God does not set the world to rights, but reveals His glory to the man of His choice. The God of glory appears to Him, (we are "called by glory and virtue," i.e. courage to sustain us when obeying the call of glory,) and desires him to detach himself from everything here-country -kindred-father's house-We must be entirely. His breaking every link which hinds us to this scene. "Except a man forsake all that he hath he cannot be my disciple." This call out of the World, is in principle its judgment.
Abraham waits in Ur of the Chaldees. He thinks or hopes that his. father is included in the call-but no. God waits for him, He is in no hurry, and waits; but at last has to break the link Himself. This is often the case-we don't break the links, and God does it, then it often is more painful, because the heart is not prepared for the rupture-while if we had done. it ourselves our heart was prepared. How often we say, "Suffer me first"-anything but Christ; and yet in the end it must be so.
- We now find (Gen. 12:44So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:4).) that he goes out "as the Lord had said unto him;" i.e. he accepts the full call of God, and then all goes well. He went out (this is the first part of the call) not knowing whither he went.—Now the Lord appears to him (v. 7.) but the "Canaanite was there." Is he now to have nothing, after giving up everything? Surely!-and this because the earth is not Its-place' but heaven. When we accept the call of God we find we have nothing here, and having nothing here, what have we elsewhere'? Heaven surely; but wicked spirits (the Canaanites) are in the heavenlies. And so we must walk by faith, not.merely be saved by faith.
The Lord now appears to him when he had fully accepted the call, and Abraham becomes a worshipper: He builds an altar there. (v. 7.) Now there is more than accepting the call merely-there is the practicing of it (v. 8.), and this on the ground of having accepted it. Hence he removes his tent-he is a pilgrim as well as a worshipper; and so following the call of God in practice, he again worships-i.e. he builds another attn.. There is advance in this.
Now comes another feature. "By faith he went out," that was the first feature.; now -comes another, "by faith he sojourned," and then comes the trial of his faith. There is a famine-all resources to the eye and sense are removed, and the World (Egypt) seeks to prove that it is a better friend than God-it gives all sorts of its goods to Abraham, and thus there is failure; and he ceases to follow the call of God, and he cannot be a worshipper and a stranger-he has no altar. At length he is restored (ch. xiii.), and has to go back to the place where he had been at the beginning, and then he again worships-but lie has made no progress.
Now comes another trial. Shall I trust God implicitly to order and guide all for me; or shall I do so for myself even when it is in my power to do so? I let God choose! "I'll go right, if you go left; and I'll go left, if you go right." He owns' this, and reveals to me the full extent of my blessings unasked -(v. 14-17); and I again worship, and practice my call as a stranger with a tent. (v. 18.)
Ch. 14-I can now be of use to others and an instrument fitted for my Lord's use, and deliver those, whether of the world, (v. 11) or the Lord's people who are involved in it, (v. 12) from it; and even then I will not be enriched by it, (v. 23); and now comes the revelation (ch. 15.) of what God is to me. Hence I seek Him and ask Him for what I believe meets my thoughts, but I don't rise higher than this. While in ch. 17 I learn not what He is for me: but what He is Himself (v. 1.), and here I am so filled with the sense of what He is, that I don't ask, as in (ch. 15.) for anything, but I am satisfied by heir, in the presence of One who has told me what He is, and God talks with me. I now renounce all confidence in the flesh (by circumcision), in ch. 16, I had confidence more or less in it; and I receive a new name which no man knoweth, but lie who receiveth it.
Now in (ch. 18.) I become the friend of God. He confides in me His purposes, first disclosing that my hope is secure in the Heir; although the world is going to be judged, I become earnest for others now, and I stand before the Lord with reverence, but boldness, and plead with Him for others, and this when others had gone aside. I am alone with Him -this could not be in the presence of others-and the Lord communes with me, as well as confides to me His purposes. (v. 33.) Chapters 12 and 13 are his worship having accepted the call of God-ch. 14-. his service, and chapters 15-18 his communion with the Lord.
We might go on to ch. 22, where lie learns fully the lesson of resurrection; hut let this suffice for the moment, and may the gracious Lord lead our hearts to a deepening sense of the nature of His call to us, and may we respond with His thoughts, fully accepting all that it involves, and so growing up to Him in all things.